His friend Theodore had gone away permanently, from Newbury, and the winter passed slowly and monotonously to Bart. He knew, although he would not admit to himself, that the principal reason of his discontent was the absence of Julia. What was she to him? What could she ever be? and yet, how dreary was Newbury—the only place he had ever loved—–when she was away. Of course she would wed, some time, and was undoubtedly much admired, and sought, and courted, by elegant and accomplished men, this winter, upon whom she smiled, and to whom she gave her hand when she met them, and who were permitted to dance with her, and be near her at any time. And what was it all to him? How sore, after all, his heart was; and how he hated and cursed himself, that he must still think of her! He would go forever and ever away, and ever so far away, and would hear and think of her no more. But when she came back, with March, he somehow felt her return, and Spring seemed naturally to come with her; and bright thoughts, and beautiful and poetic figures and images, would arrange themselves in couplets and stanzas, with her in the centre, in spite of him.
Then came sugar making, with life and health of spirit, in the woods. His brother was arranging to dispose of his interests, and had gone further West, to look for a new point, for new enterprises.
March and sugar making had gone, and Bart had completed his scanty arrangements to depart also; and no matter what the future might have for him, he knew that he was now leaving Newbury; that whatever might happen, his home would certainly be elsewhere; although it would forever remain the best, and perhaps sole home of his heart and memory.
What he could do for his mother he had done. His limited wardrobe was packed. He went to the pond, to all the dear and cherished places in the woods; and one night he was guilty of the folly, as he knew it was, of wandering up the State road, past Judge Markham’s house. He did not pretend to himself that it was not with the hope of seeing Julia, but he only passed the darkened house where she lived, and went disappointed away. He would go on the morrow, and when it came, he sent his trunk up to Hiccox’s, intending to walk down in the evening, and intercept the stage, as Henry had done.
He went again to his brother’s grave, and there, on its head, was an almost fresh wreath of wild flowers! He was unmanned; and, kneeling, touched the dead children of the Spring with his lips, and dropped tears upon them. How grateful he was that a watchful love was there to care for this consecrated place, and he felt that he could not go that night. What mattered one day? He would wait till to-morrow, he thought, but was restless and undecided. George left him at the cemetery, and went to the post-office, and was to have gone with Edward to see him off, on the stage. As the time to leave approached, Bart found his disinclination to go even stronger; and he finally told his mother he would remain until the next day.